The health care field is one of the fastest growing and changing industries. Navigating through these changes requires highly skilled and well-educated professionals to manage health care facilities. A career in health care management provides significant opportunities for those interested in a fast-paced, evolving career.
Health care is an industry just like technology, agriculture, manufacturing and entertainment. Like businesses in those industries, the health care field requires managers to oversee the operation of its businesses including hospitals, private practices, clinics and nursing homes. These professionals ensure the business of health care runs effectively by planning, implementing and evaluating all aspects of health care delivery.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2008, more than 260,000 people worked in health care management, with more than one-third of those in hospitals. Private practices and nursing home facilities employed another 22 percent and the rest worked in home health care, federal government, outpatient care and other settings.
Types of Roles
Typically, health care management includes one of two categories of professionals: business administrators or clinical specialists. Business administrator roles include finance, human resources, information technology, marketing, operations and other positions needed by most businesses. More specialized management roles include nursing services, patient care and medical staff relations.
Health care management requires specialized expertise and, often, extensive education. In private practice, experience within a specified area may be enough to be promoted into a management position. Hospitals or large clinic settings often require higher education for health care management. An undergraduate degree is typically enough for entry-level positions. To move up, you may need a master’s in health administration, public health or business administration, especially within the management ranks of a clinical department where a master’s degree in the applicable field will help.
Even with ongoing changes in the health care field, health care management is expected to grow at a faster rate than careers in most other industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2016 the field will have grown 16 percent in 10 years. While hospitals will continue to employ the most health care executives, the industry will see a higher rate of growth in larger private clinics and outpatient care facilities.